863 F.2d 384 (5th Cir. 1989), 87-1512, Calderon v. Presidio Valley Farmers Ass'n

Docket Nº:87-1512, 87-1513 and 87-1701.
Citation:863 F.2d 384
Party Name:Amado Salazar CALDERON, et al., Plaintiffs-Appellees, Cross-Appellants, v. PRESIDIO VALLEY FARMERS ASSOCIATION, et al., Defendants-Appellants, Cross-Appellees. PRESIDIO VALLEY FARMERS ASSOCIATION, Plaintiff-Appellant, Cross-Appellee, v. Antonio MONTELONGO, et al., Intervenors-Defendants, Appellees-Cross-Appellants. Amado Salazar CALDERON, et al., P
Case Date:January 20, 1989
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
 
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Page 384

863 F.2d 384 (5th Cir. 1989)

Amado Salazar CALDERON, et al., Plaintiffs-Appellees, Cross-Appellants,

v.

PRESIDIO VALLEY FARMERS ASSOCIATION, et al.,

Defendants-Appellants, Cross-Appellees.

PRESIDIO VALLEY FARMERS ASSOCIATION, Plaintiff-Appellant,

Cross-Appellee,

v.

Antonio MONTELONGO, et al., Intervenors-Defendants,

Appellees-Cross-Appellants.

Amado Salazar CALDERON, et al., Plaintiffs-Appellants,

v.

PRESIDIO VALLEY FARMERS ASSOCIATION, et al., Defendants-Appellees.

PRESIDIO VALLEY FARMERS ASSOCIATION, Plaintiff-Counter Claim

Defendant-Appellee,

v.

Ray MARSHALL, Etc., et al., Defendants,

Antonio Montelongo, et al., Intervenors-Defendants and

Counter Claim Plaintiffs-Appellants.

Nos. 87-1512, 87-1513 and 87-1701.

United States Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit

January 20, 1989

Page 385

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 386

Thomas J. Bacas, Washington, D.C., Presidio Valley Farms Ass'n, et al.

Edward J. Tuddenham, Washington, D.C., David Hall, Texas Rural Legal Aid, Inc., Weslaco, Tex., for Calderon, et al. and Antonio Montelongo, et al.

Appeals from the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas.

Before GOLDBERG, HIGGINBOTHAM, and DAVIS, Circuit Judges.

PER CURIAM:

Several hundred Mexican farmworkers sued the Presidio Valley Farmers Association and its grower members for breach of their employment agreement and numerous violations of the Farm Labor Contractor Registration Act. The PVFA had hired the workers during the 1977 and 1978 harvest seasons pursuant to "H-2" temporary visas issued by the Immigration and Naturalization Service. The district court entered judgment in favor of the workers, and both sides appealed.

In Salazar-Calderon v. Presidio Valley Farmers Association, 765 F.2d 1334 (5th Cir.1985), cert. denied, 475 U.S. 1035, 106 S.Ct. 1245, 89 L.Ed.2d 353 (1986), we affirmed liquidated damages against PVFA and its members, jointly and severally, in the amount of $15 per worker for each of five "technical" FLCRA violations that occurred during the 1977 harvest. However, we vacated the court's $300 liquidated damages award to piece rate workers for a sixth FLCRA violation, "failure to abide by the working arrangement." We remanded the case for a new damages trial on that issue because (1) the trial court omitted from its liability findings and damage award several alleged violations, and provided no explanation for limiting the award to piece rate workers; (2) the trial court had erroneously excluded from the working agreement's terms a weekly transportation allowance, and a guarantee of work or pay for at least three-quarters of the visa period; and (3) the PVFA had not agreed to the district court's procedure for determining these damages.

In Presidio Valley Farmers Association v. Brock, 765 F.2d 1353 (5th Cir.1985), cert. denied, 474 U.S. 1073, 106 S.Ct. 833, 88 L.Ed.2d 804 (1986), now on appeal as Montelongo, we adopted the same rulings for FLCRA violations during the 1978 harvest, except that PVFA members were not jointly and severally liable because PVFA had incorporated that year.

On remand, the district court consolidated the two cases and reconsidered its earlier class action decision, certifying a class of H-2 workers pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 23(b)(3). After hearing testimony from 507 class members, the court awarded the workers in Salazar and Brock $705,710.53 and $333,718, respectively, in actual damages for breach of the "working arrangement." The court also awarded $176,323 and $40,028.50, respectively, in attorneys' fees.

Both sides now appeal. PVFA challenges the trial court's award of actual damages and contends that they were erroneously calculated. PVFA also contends that the court erroneously held the growers jointly and severally liable for PVFA's FLCRA violations during the 1978 harvest. Finally, PVFA argues that the trial court erred by certifying the class action on remand and by awarding attorneys' fees. The workers urge that the court erred by denying prejudgment interest on damages for breach of the working agreement, denying damages to particular class members, and by failing to include recovery for paralegal and travel time in determining attorneys' fees. For reasons stated below, we affirm in part and reverse in part.

I

We turn first to the holding that PVFA is liable under state law for breach of contract. We originally vacated the trial court's damage award for a sixth FLCRA violation, "failure to abide by the working arrangement." We remanded the case to

Page 387

allow the district court to redetermine damages for that FLCRA violation in light of "additional terms" that we found were part of the work agreement. Salazar, 765 F.2d at 1353; Brock, 765 F.2d at 1357. We did not reopen the legal theory involved. Yet on remand, the district court found PVFA liable under a legal theory not urged in the original appeals, breach of state law contract. This finding reaches beyond our original mandate, and we reverse the district court's findings insofar as they are based on a state law breach of contract theory. See Stamper v. Baskerville, 724 F.2d 1106, 1107-1108 (4th Cir.1984) (trial court may decide matters left open on remand only insofar as they are consistent with appellate court's mandate).

  1. JOINT & SEVERAL LIABILITY

    PVFA attacks the trial court holding that its members are jointly and severally liable for PVFA's violation of the work agreement during the 1978 harvest. The district court acknowledged our previous holding that PVFA's members were not jointly and severally liable for PVFA's FLCRA violations during the 1978 harvest. See Brock, 765 F.2d at 1359. The court found, however, that as joint employers PVFA's members could be held jointly and severally liable for breach of state law contract, a theory not available to it, as we have explained. Workers' counsel conceded during oral argument that PVFA's members could not be held jointly and severally liable for PVFA's FLCRA violations because PVFA had incorporated during that year. We must then reverse the court's finding that PVFA's members are jointly and severally liable for PVFA's violation of the work agreement during the 1978 harvest.

    PVFA also claims that the district court erred in holding the growers individually liable for liquidated damages previously assessed against PVFA for five "technical" FLCRA violations during the 1978 season. Apparently, this assessment was not intended by the district court. 1 The workers concede this error in their brief and voice no objection to a modification of the judgment. Accordingly, we modify the district court's decision to reflect that PVFA's members are not individually liable for liquidated damages resulting from PVFA's five "technical" FLCRA violations during the 1978 season.

  2. ATTORNEYS' FEES

    PVFA next argues that the trial court erroneously awarded attorneys' fees under Tex.Civ.Prac. & Rem.Code Secs. 38.001-006 (Vernon 1986) for a case based on federal law. The FLCRA does not itself authorize an award of attorneys' fees. Montelongo v. Meese, 803 F.2d 1341, 1355 n. 23 (5th Cir.1986); Alvarez v. Longboy, 697 F.2d 1333, 1340-41 (9th Cir.1983). Workers' counsel conceded at oral argument that their claim to attorneys' fees rested solely upon state law. 2 Because this case is based entirely...

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